Monday, 40 Years Ago
“I hate buying flowers,” said Hershel quietly to Joe as they were slowly overwhelmed by the sheer number of flowers in Krelboin’s on D’lancy street. “Sharon loves them, but I hate buying them.”
“Maybe you could eschew the flowers and just get chocolate. She’s your wife, what can she say?” responded Joe sympathetically. Since it was such a nice day, he had offered to accompany Hershel on his errands during their lunch hour. Hershel was glad of his company.
“It’s what she likes. I really don’t understand it, I just know that it is so.”
“Then why not just buy the flowers and stop complaining?”
“Well, it’s supposed to be a symbol of our love, right? Well, a flower will die no matter how much you nurture it. What kind of symbol of love is that?”
“Then get her a potted flower. It’s the best of both worlds, right?” Joe beamed proudly, his thumbs hooked in his pants’ pockets. “They’re hard to take care of, yeah, but you can keep them alive much longer than cut flowers.”
Hershel was amazed that he hadn’t thought of this before. He waved at the young girl behind the counter. She had a button nose and her upper lip never really met with her lower lip.
“Yeah?” she said, her voice sounding dreamy.
“I want to buy a rose,” said Hershel, “A rose in a pot.”
“We don’t have that kind.”
“Can you get that kind?” asked Joe, leaning in close, explaining his point with his hands. “This is a flower shop. You must be able to get flowers in a pot.”
“I can put flowers in a pot,” she said. Hershel noticed that her eyes seemed unfocused and glassy.
“Is Gravis here?” asked Hershel abruptly. Gravis had owned the shop for decades and had helped Hershel pick out flowers for Sharon since they started dating. At the mention of his name, he barreled out of the backroom like a gregarious tornado.
“Hershel! Is it that time of year again? Time for flowers?” asked Gravis as he snapped up a vase and began picking through his stock. “Have you had kids yet?” asked Gravis.
“No,” responded Hershel. “And I’m looking for something different this year.”
“Different? Like what?” Gravis was startled, nearly dropping the vase.
“I convinced him to buy a potted plant, Mr. Krelboin,” interrupted Joe proudly.
“A potted plant. A potted plant? What woman wants a potted plant?” protested Gravis. “They aren’t half as pretty. They’re all leafy; it distracts from the blooms.”
“It’s what I would like, Gravis. I think Sharon would like it more. Maybe she can start a window box garden like she always wanted to,” said Hershel. The girl at the counter wandered off, disappearing in the back room.
“Well, if that is the case, I can do that for you. But it won’t be cheap. Every plant I sell gives blooms away when I could be selling them, you understand?” Gravis grinned slightly.
“I understand, Gravis. Will it be much trouble? Can I get it soon?” asked Hershel.
“When do you need it? Middle of June, right?” asked Gravis.
“June 15th, exactly,” said Hershel, reaching for his wallet. “How much will it be?”
“About two dollars, depending on the kind.”
“Two dollars!” exclaimed Joe. “You’re going to pay two dollars? That would get you a whole bouquet.”
“But not a nice bouquet,” interjected Gravis. “I will pick out the best, longest living potted flower for you. What kind do you want?”
“ I was thinking of a rose,” said Hershel innocently.
“She won’t like that. It looks like a stick. Besides, you need more than a window box for a rose bush.” Gravis spoke with authority; Hershel knew Gravis was a wise man when it came to flowers, so he trusted him completely.
“So, what do I get?”
“Geraniums. They are the first and last word in potted plants for window boxes. For two dollars, I could give you two. It would be a great way to start a window box. Nice and full of flowers.”
“Okay,” agreed Hershel. “Half now, half later?”
“As usual, my boy,” said Gravis, accepting the dollar Hershel produced from his wallet. “How long have you been married now? Two years, right?”
“Yes. It’s remarkable how well you remember all of these small details,” responded Hershel. “How do you do it?”
“It is the burden of the artist to remember every detail.”
“I will see you in a week, Gravis. Take care.”
“Maybe next year your friend will have a wife to buy for as well.”
Joe looked like a bolt of lightning shot through him as he wheeled around.
“You are a funny man, Mr. Krelboin. Very funny,” said Joe. “You know very well that I’m married to Gail. You were at the wedding.”
“A wedding without Krelboin’s Flowers is hardly a wedding,” joked Gravis.
“You should put that on the sign. It would make for a great advertisement,” offered Hershel, walking towards the door. “Sharon could paint it, maybe.”